Raise your hand if you’re a fan of Wes Anderson? OK. Now, raise your hand if you’re a fan of any movie that has a signature pastry? GREAT! I knew you guys would raise your hands.
And because your hands were in the air (like you just don’t care) I KNOW that you’re going to love this pastry.
This is my Sugar Hit take on the Courtesan au Chocolat, from the ode to pastel pink that is The Grand Budapest Hotel. I won’t lie to you, I can’t compete with the skilled bakers who created the original, or with Molly, Renee or Lyndsay’s beautifully decorated versions.
So I skipped the filigree and fancy piping, and went for BRIGHT WHITE ICING AND SPRANKLES!
I think this is a really cool, low effort way to get a high impact result, but really, the pastry and the filling is what it’s all about. Light, crisp, buttery choux buns, absolutely stuffed to the gills with dark chocolate pastry cream is my idea of pastry heaven.
This recipe will make four little towers of deliciousness, with a bit of extra pastry for a few back-up buns, but it would be super easy to scale this up or down if you wanted to make more. And why wouldn’t you?
If you haven’t seen The Grand Budapest Hotel yet, I strongly reccomend you go watch it. And after seeing Agatha covered in flour and smudges of cocoa, carefully decorating scores of little courtesans au chocolat, let the inspiration flow through you and get into the kitchen!
Or start planning a trip to Gorlitz where the movie was filmed. Or both! Definitely both.
- 1 + ½ cups (375ml) milk
- 2oz (50g) dark chocolate
- 3 egg yolks
- ¼ cup (65g) sugar
- 2 tbsp cocoa
- 1 tbsp plain flour
- 1 tbsp cornstarch (cornflour)
- ½ stick (60g) butter
- ½ cup + 2 tbsp (150ml) water
- ½ cup (75g) plain flour
- 2 eggs
- For the icing:
- Royal icing mixture
- sprinkles, optional
- Make the pastry cream first, as it needs to chill.
- Place the milk and dark chocolate into a saucepan and place over a medium heat. Heat while stirring, until the chocolate is completely melted.
- Meanwhile, place the remaining ingredients into a mixing bowl and whisk until smooth and combined.
- Slowly stream in the milk, whisking all the while, until everything is incorporated. Then place the mixture back into the saucepan, and place over a medium heat.
- Heat the mixture over a medium heat, stirring continuously. It will thicken to the consistency of thick custard, and begin to bubble and boil. Keep cooking and stirring for a further minute or so, and then remove from the heat, and place into a bowl. Press plastic onto the surface of the custard, and then chill completely.
- To make the choux buns, turn on the oven to 425F (220C) and line two baking sheets with baking paper. Draw four 2.5inch (6cm) circles, four 1.5 inch (4cm) circles and four ¾ inch (2cm) circles on the paper, and turn the sheets over (you don't want ink on your pastry!).
- Place the butter and water into a saucepan and heat until the butter melts. Then turn the heat up, bring it to a boil and remove it from the heat. Dump in all the flour, and then place it back on the heat and stir until everything comes together in a ball. Keep stirring, cooking the pastry for a few minutes, or until it comes away from the sides of the pan.
- Place the mixture into a bowl, and stir for a few moments, to cool it slightly, and then begin adding the eggs a bit at a time, making sure they are completely incorporated before each addition.
- Once all the eggs are in, place the mixture into a piping bag, fitted with a large plain nozzle, and pipe the dough onto your baking sheets, using the circles you drew as a size guide. Using a wet finger, smooth the tops of each bun.
- Place the pastry into the oven for 10 minutes, and then turn the oven down and bake for a further 5 minutes. At this point, the smallest buns can be removed. The remaining buns need another 10 minutes.
- When they're all done, cut a small slit into the bottom of each bun and place them back in the oven for 5 minutes, to dry out briefly. Once they're done, set them aside to cool.
- When the buns are cool, place the pastry cream into a piping bag fitted with a small plain nozzle, and fill each bun with some of the pastry cream, using the slit in the bottom of each.
- Once they're all filled, make a thick icing, with the royal icing mixture, and enough water just to make it so that the icing won't run. Dip each bun into the icing, and then stack the courtesan au chocolats according to size. Decorate with sprinkles, if you like, and then leave to set in the fridge for at least 20 minutes.